Every spring, shortly after the Academy Awards have aired, the University of Tulsa’s Film Department has its own Oscars, the TU Spring Film Festival. This year is their seventh annual festival, although there have been festivals like this since the early 2000s. At the festival, student films made in the last year are screened by an audience of film students, TU students, faculty and members of the public.
While watching, the audience is asked to vote on their favorite movies. At the end of the screening, some unfortunate film department work study employee has to—in a small amount of time—count up all those ballots to see which movie won.
Then the awards are announced: Best Soundtrack, Best Actor, Runner-Up Best Film, Best Film and Audience Favorite. After this, one of the film department’s professors goes on-stage to announce the winner of the Outstanding Senior award, given every year to the best filmmaker in the senior class. The night closes with cake and socializing.
I have a work-study job in the film department, so I was privileged to help out at the 2015 Spring Film Festival. Six movies were in the running this year, ranging in length from five minutes to thirty minutes.
The first to show was “The Fishing Contest,” which told the story of Bob, an ordinary guy who just wants to beat Fabio in one contest and regain his honor. I thought the story was funny and had a good moral: don’t cheat or you’ll lose the contest.
Next was “Fat Guy,” the tale of a rather overweight man who only wants a bottle of Mountain Dew and the adventure is just to get that soda. It was also funny, with a nice little “oh no” moment at the end.
Then there was “Devil’s Food,” in which a very tired and barely coherent young man meets a kindly-looking old guy at a coffeeshop. The kindly old man gives the young man a book and says whatever the man wants will appear in that book. There was a really nice dream sequence in the middle of this, and a very interesting deal with the devil at the end that I really think I should call the Winchesters about.
Fourth film on the roster was “Once Upon a Time in the Wasteland,” which was based off the video game franchise “Fallout.” It was the longest film to be shown that night, clocking in at around thirty minutes in length. It featured some amazing acting, special effects and a stunning soundtrack made by a fellow TU student expressly for the film. I enjoyed the story it told, even though I have never played or even seen any game footage of “Fallout.”
The next film was “Indie,” an interesting little film that satirized many things about our generation. A young woman is talking to her boyfriend about her time with him, using metaphors and terms that make no sense at all, and at the end admits she is on “so many drugs right now.” It’s a good laugh.
And the final film was “Cinemagic,” in which a well-dressed young man goes to the theater alone, despondent, and ends up making a new friend while watching the movie. There’s a lot of ridiculous shenanigans and the bestowing of a helicopter hat, but it’s a funny story and a cute buddy film.
And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the awards. There were six awards given out that night. Best Soundtrack went to “Once Upon a Time in the Wasteland.” Best Actor was awarded to Anna Bennett for her role in “Once Upon a Time in the Wasteland.” Runner-Up Best Film was given to “Devil’s Food.” “Once Upon a Time in the Wasteland” won Best Film and Audience Favorite, as it should have.
And the award for Outstanding Senior went to Brandon Baney. All in all, it was a fun night with some pretty amazing student films.